Published on May 10th 2010 by Leon Shepherd

As we all know, mothers teach, touch, and shape the lives of those who have been blessed to encounter their unconditional love. As I reminisced about TV shows of the past, I realized that there have been some wonderful portrayal’s African-American mothers on TV. Due to this fact, I decided to do a Top 10 list featuring some of these wonderful portrayals.  So, without further ado, here’s my list of TV’s Top 10 greatest African-American moms.


10. Adele Wayne “A Different World”


Patti Labelle had a recurring role as Dwayne Wayne’s mother in the NBC hit sitcom, “A Different World.”  Labelle’s role as Adele was a loving, caring and a no-nonsense mother who wanted the best for her son.


9. Harriette Winslow “Family Matters”



Jo Marie Payton portrayed Harriette Winslow on the ABC hit sitcom, “Family Matters.” Harriette was a patient, caring, and a loving mother who sometimes felt that her husband, Carl Winslow was intolerant of neighbor, Steve Urkel. Because of her husband’s intolerance of Urkel, Harriett often showed affection and appreciation for him.


8. Viola  ‘Vy’ Smith “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”


Vernee Watson-Johnson had a recurring role as Will Smith’s mother in the NBC hit sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Vernee’s role as ‘Vy’ was a mother who cared and loved her son, and wanted only the best for him.


7. Rochelle “Everybody Hates Chris”


Tichina Arnold portrayed Chris’s mother in the UPN hit comedy, “Everybody Loves Chris.” Her portrayal of Rochelle, was a mother who was strict, caring, and believed in old-school child-rearing. Her old-school ways included a lot of fussing and screaming, but also demonstrated a strong love for her family.


6. Mary Jenkins “227″


Marla Gibbs portrayed Mary Jenkins in the NBC hit comedy, “227.” Gibbs portrayal of Mary was a no-nonsense mom who was also a committed wife, mother and friend.


5. Mabel “Mama” Thomas “What’s Happening!!”


Mabel King portrayed Mabel ‘Mama’ Thomas on the hit TV sitcom, “What’s Happening!!” Kings portrayal as ‘Mama,” was a stern, yet fair, hardworking, and loving mom. One of the memorable, loving moments on the show was when she would hug “Raj” so tight he could hardly breathe.



4. Louise ‘Weezie’ Jefferson “The Jeffersons”


Isabel Sanford portrayed Louise”Weezie” Jefferson on the long-running hit sitcom, “The Jeffersons.” Louise was a kind-hearted, street smart mom who was a great example for women living with short-tempered husbands and with a less than ideal mother-in-law. She was always able to bring a sense of calm to her husband through reasoning, patience and love.


3. Julia Baker “Julia” & Marion Gilbert “A Different World”


Diahann Carroll portrayed the first great, most memorable TV morn when she starred in the groundbreaking TV series “Julia” from 1968-1971. Julia was a strong, intelligent, loving and patient morn who knew how to balance career and motherhood.  Carroll also portrayed Whitley Gilbert’s mother, Marion Gilbert, on the NBC hit sitcom, “A Different World.” Carroll’s portrayal of Marion, was a mother who was intelligent, proud, and upper-class, but also loving and wanting the best for her daughter.


2. Florida Evans “Good Times”



Esther Rolle portrayed Florida Evans on the memorable hit TV sitcom, “Good Times.” Rolle’s portrayal of Florida was one that was supportive, caring, and had high morals. She was also a good mother, wife, and friend.


 1. Clair Huxtable “The Cosby Show”


Phylicia Rashad portrayed Clair Huxtable on the NBC hit sitcom, “The Cosby Show.” Rashad’s portrayal of Clair was a no-nonsense mom but one that was full of love and humor every episode. Clair was also attractive, articulate, and intelligent. She also proved that a mother could have it all; a great family, a loving husband, a successful career.

Entertainment | Comments (17)

17 Responses to “Top 10 TV Moms”

  1. Lyn Says:

    Wow what a great list. I agree with the numbers and i knew number one before i saw it. Great job Leon.

  2. Shack Says:

    Leon – Kudos again and I am in agreement with this ranking. Interesting note that this top ten mirrors to a fair degree the Top Ten sitcoms (Except this time you included the Fresh Prince of Belair-Uhm!) Speaking of that show, how would Janet Hubert-Whitten (sic)the first mom, have fared had she not talked herself out of a good gig?

    Teresa Merrit and Mabel King were very similar in their respective roles!

  3. Leon Says:

    Thanks Lyn!

  4. Leon Says:

    Thanks Shack!
    And guess what? When I was putting together the list, Janet Hubert-Whitten was in the top five. But a friend (Trisha) of mine, reminded me that Hubert-Whitten was Fresh Prince’s Aunt (Aunt Viv), not mother. The same applies to Daphne Maxwell Reid who took Hubert-Whitten’s place. His real mother on the show was portrayed by Vernee Watson.

  5. Shack Says:

    Yes she was Aunt Viv to Will but she was mom to Carlton, Taty Ali and Parsons. She was very good in both roles (aunt & mother)…much more “motherly” than the beautiful Daphne Maxwell.

  6. Leon Says:

    Shack…good point. And I completely agree.

  7. Lenora Dorsey Says:

    This is a great list. I agree with Shack about aunt Viv. Why is Harriet Winslow in 9th place? Anyway, I would give you an A+ for this list.

  8. Leon Says:

    Thanks Lenora, I’m glad you like the list.
    Regarding Harriet Winslow, where would you place her?

  9. Shonee Says:

    Great list Leon even with the exception of #8..didn’t care for her role too much.

    FYI, my favorite upper-class mom would be Half-N-Half’s Big Dee Dee, lol!

  10. Leon Says:

    Thanks Shonee. And I did strongly consider Big Dee Dee. Sh’e one of my favorites too.

  11. Trisha Says:

    Great list Leon and I was familiar with all but 1/2; #3 I only knew from A Different World.

  12. Lenora Dorsey Says:

    I’m not exactly sure where I would place her. I think that given the fact that she was pretty much in all episodes I would place her below Vernee Watson and Isabel Sanford whom I considered a part-time mom because Lionel did not live with them and he was MIA for awhile.

  13. Leon Says:

    Good point, Lenora.

  14. Shack Says:

    Tried to recall this actress last week but couldn’t. Saw a clips of a couple of movies lately. One was Not Easily Broken with M. Chestnut and T.P. Henson. Ok flick and Chestnut’s acting was ok/nothing special but I remembered the actress that played Henson’s mom. She is Jennifer Lewis. She has played DOZENS of “mom” roles on both TV and in movies. Look her up on IMDb and you’ll see her picture and “mama” roles.

    Believe she deserves some recognition on the TV Moms list.

    The other movie was The Devils Tomb with my boy CGBJr. with him being the leader of a group of soldiers with some evil force around them etc.It was another worthless performance!!

  15. Leon Says:

    Shack, Jennifer Lewis is a great actress who has played a quite a few mother roles, including playing Tina Turner’s mother.
    And yes, she deserves some consideration as a Top 10 TV Mom.

  16. Shack Says:

    Yeah in re-reading her mini bio on the IMDb, she’s been deemed the “Mother of Black Hollywood”!

  17. Shack Says:

    Correction – should’ve said “The Black Mother of Hollywood”